Wet Cyanotype Process

This is my guide for printing cyanotypes using extras like bubbles and food to create different effects on your prints. My Cyanotype Printing Paper Kit is available to purchase in my shop. I really hope you enjoy being creative and do please share your creations with me over on instagram @karenlouisegeorge.

YOU WILL NEED

  • Clean glass and a solid backboard – a spare fridge self is ideal as the glass is toughened with smooth edges. Picture frame glass will be good but be careful of the sharp edges!
  • Your pre-coated papers (in their bag)
  • A tray/bowl big enough to wash your print in
  • Clean running cold water
  • Washing up liquid and bowl to mix bubbles
  • A dessert spoon
  • Other items to experiment with texture, any of the following can be interesting: sugar, salt, cling film, bubble wrap, basically anything with texture thats slightly transparent, be creative!
  • An old toothbrush or washing up brush
  • Clips to hold the glass and board during exposure
  • Somewhere to hang your print to dry (pegged to a clothes line/horse will be fine!)

STEP ONE

SET UP

Pick a suitable space to assemble your prints indoors or in the shade. Lay out your glass, board & clips ready.

STEP TWO

GATHER YOUR PROPS

Leaves, seaweed and flowers work well but you can use anything that can be held flat under your clipped glass frame.

TIP: If you are using seaweed you don’t want it to be too wet otherwise it will wash the chemicals off your paper once you place it on the sheet. Damp is fine but just be aware that where you place it first try will be where it needs to stay.

Choose exactly what foliage/items you will be putting on the paper so you are ready to go as soon as you remove it from the bag.

STEP THREE

ARRANGE THE ITEMS ON YOUR PAPER

Remove one sheet of paper from the bag (only remove the sheet/s you are using) and place it on the board, place your items on the paper followed by the glass, using your clips to hold it all together – if you are doing it outside in the shade then make sure you don’t work too slowly to avoid exposure.

ADD YOUR BUBBLES AND EXTRA EFFECT ITEMS

BUBBLES: Adding bubbles can create a beautiful effect, especially if you are creating a print with seaweed. Once you have frothed up your bubbles in the bowl, take a couple of spoonfuls off the top and place them on your print over and around the items you have played out, be careful not to use too much to avoid washing the chemicals away before exposure.

SUGAR & SALT: These can give a great texture effect scattered over your print, try different things and see what you like best.

WATER: Flicking a TINY amount of water over your print, using a brush, just before you put it out for exposure can create a lovely effect, especially if combined with the salt. BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE TOO MUCH WATER, a tiny spatter will be enough.

TRANSPARENT ITEMS: Other things such as bubble wrap and cling film can create interesting effects on your print, its all about being creative and experimenting with what you have around.

STEP FOUR

START EXPOSURE

Place your frame in the sunshine/in a bright spot.

In full British summer sun in the middle of the day, 10-20 minutes should be enough. If it is overcast then you will need to expose for longer. Your picture will be done when the yellow areas have turned a grey/silver colour.

As the seasons change and it gets later in the day the sun becomes less strong so longer exposure times will be needed.

IF USING BUBBLES: You may need to wait a but longer to make sure the print is mostly dry under the frame before washing, it won’t be totally dry if you are using fresh seaweed/foliage but you just need the bubbles to have created the effect well before washing, but you will be able to see what they have created by that stage.

STEP FIVE

WASH YOUR PRINT

Take your frame to the water tray for washing (a sink or a hose is great). Open the frame and remove all foliage/items.

Swiftly place your print in the water and rock the tray so the water moves over the print, removing any excess chemicals from the paper.

Tip the water away and fill with fresh as the water starts to turn yellow; you can also keep the tap running in the corner of the tray to continuously add fresh water as you wash.

You may need to wash your print for around 10 minutes, or until ALL yellow pigment has been removed from the paper. Once most of the yellow has been removed you can leave your print in fresh water for 10 minutes to allow the rest of the yellow to lift, it will then wash away once you return for a final wash.

STEP SIX

DRY YOUR PRINT

Hang your print and, once dry, place under a book to flatten. And then you’re done!

Share your creations with me on instagram @karenlouisegeorge